Metrolink Perris Valley Line Lawsuit: Protecting the $75 million in federal funds

A Metrolink locomotive built by Rotem.$75 million in awarded federal funds for the Metrolink Perris Valley Line are now at risk according to John Standiford, Deputy Executive Director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission. The FTA granted RCTC the money through the Small Starts program, but since the entire project is stalled over trivial environmental litigation, the federal funds could be deobligated.

As mentioned, the state legislature is working on amending CEQA law to prevent environmentally-friendly projects from being stopped in the courts in the name of the environment. The California State Senate unanimously backed changes to the landmark legislation on May 29. Now, the feds are getting in on the debate. Congressman Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) sent this letter to FTA administrator Peter Rogoff, asking him to keep the Perris Valley Line federal funds in tact:

Dear Administrator Rogoff:

The Perris Valley Line Metrolink Extension represents a significant step towards sustainable living in California’s 41st Congressional District and I welcome the $75 million federal investment that has been appropriated by Congress for this project.

As you may know, a California Superior Court Judge recently ordered decertification of the Perris Valley Line’s environmental impact report (EIR) prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The project’s sponsor, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), has assured me that they are pursuing all options available to ensure that the Perris Valley Line ultimately moves forward to construction.

I urge the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to take all actions necessary to preserve the $75 million that has been appropriated under the Small Starts program for Perris Valley Line during ongoing litigation. The Small Starts grant is an imperative piece of the total funding for the Perris Valley Line project and I encourage the FTA to ensure that the Perris Valley Line project remain eligible to receive the grant once CEQA litigation has concluded.

Perris Valley Line provides critical regional connectivity to my constituents, particularly in the underserved cities of Perris and Moreno Valley, while connecting major job centers in Riverside and March Air Reserve Base.

Thank you for FTA’s continued support of Perris Valley Line and for working with RCTC to advance livability and mobility in California’s 41st Congressional District.

Sincerely, Mark Takano

RCTC Commissioners will be discussing what will happen next at their Commissioners board meeting later today. In the mean time, the FTA should grant Rep. Takano's request to prevent anything else from delaying the Perris Valley Line extension which is long past due.